20 April 2013
We have a winner for the caption contest! Thank you, all and sundry, for the plethora of entries, especially the ones involving clean humour. Always a difficult trick to master, that one. Anyway, without further ado, I can proudly announce that after many hours of deliberation and heated discussion, the prize goes to a Mr. C. Pauncefoot in glamorous East London. To refresh the memory, the picture was of the bell of Colin Graham’s sousaphone standing alone on the green opposite Westminster Abbey-
And the winning caption-
“Mrs Thatcher’s grave fitted with the Bodge and Phucket premature burial alarm system. (Sadly George Galloway had sneakily nicked the mouthpiece rendering the system null and void).
Can I have my curry now please”.
One curry coming up! Photos of the gala prize-winner night and curry presentation will be on the Plog soon.
The chiropodists amongst you will be pleased to know that the war against the new Doctor Marten’s is now largely won. For some reason, leaving them out in the Naughty Corner in the Shed (Or Home Studio) to have a Jolly Good Think about just how much they’d let everyone down seems to have done the trick, and like reformed school bullies, they are now my best friends. I’m still at a bit of a loss to explain this, as on their first outing the pain level they engendered was not far off having a Black and Decker workmate full of broken bottles and barbed wire clamped around each foot. Maybe it’s something in the air in the shed (or Home Studio) which has miraculous leather-softening properties. I guess we’ll never find out, but I can say that I am now free to roam the streets free of the curse of the hideous old green canvas deck shoes. Hurrah.
I was hoping to have some big news on the construction of the Seaplanes of the Axis Powers Diorama, but unfortunately playing music got in the way at the last minute, and I’ve had a week doing the early set at Ronnie’s. I got booed for the first time too this week. We were on supporting the great Kurt Elling, and during my announcement of Mood Indigo, I whimsically observed that Duke Ellington was a near anagram of Kurt Elling. I know it’s not that funny, but I feel that little bons mots of around funny factor 15% are handy for gluing the narrative together, and warm the audience up for the mass hysteria expected during the inevitable end-of -set innuendo. However, like Rommel fortifying the wrong bit of northern France, I had grievously miscalculated the partisanship of Mr. Elling’s fans, clearly to whom any reference their hero which isn’t praise constitutes major desecration. It was only a little bit of anagram humour, but an icy silence swept the room, like frost forming on the windscreen of a Boeing in a disaster movie. Then some low booing. It was a disaster movie!
Luckily, I am not in the business of stand-up comedy, in which I would be required to dig myself out of such an unexpected chasm all on my own. We are armed with music, and luckily James Pearson came in with piano intro just as the tension in the room would have cracked the hull of the sturdiest submarine. I’ve often alluded to the strengths of Ellington’s (see- it is a near anagram! See? See?)music in the Plog, and within seconds, the unique blend of complexity, sophistication and simplicity that is Mood Indigo soothed the crowd back into a calm and happy state, a bit like the soma van in the canteen riot in Brave New World, only without the chilly implication of state-led manipulation.
Suprise shocker of the week was doing two recording sessions on Friday. Just like buses, you don’t see one for months, and then two rattle up together! The first was one of the new breed. In The Good Old Days, if you wanted to record some music, you had to assemble all your musicians into a studio with an engineer, hand out the parts and count it off whilst the engineer pressed play and record on the tape machine out the back. Nowadays, we can democratise this process. Recording software is now pretty cheap, and it is fairly easy to set up a Home Studio. I often allude to my own Shed (or Home Studio) which in the grand tradition of Facebook self-aggrandisement is the same shed as I had anyway with a microphone which I can plug into a laptop in a corner by the lawnmower accessories. A recording is now often created by the composer emailing the track between the various musicians who can add their own parts without even having to get out of the dressing gown and slippers, sometimes on different continents. This also makes it much faster to stitch a recording together, as no-one has to wait to bring all the different bodies involved, dressed, cleaned and shaved, through the traffic into one room with all their heavy gear. Tracks can be added in the small hours of the morning, and so it was at 8a.m. on Friday that I found myself in the Home Studio (or Shed) playing an Alto Sax still in my kimono and fez (bedtime is a process laden with ceremony here at The Gables) into a microphone attached to the laptop for a track written by my new chum Jonathan, who wrote all the stings for the recent televisual extravaganza with Barbara Windsor. I might add that while I was doing this, he was on the school run, and received the finished article on his Blackberry.
Then onto session number two, which was to be done in the old fashioned way around at Drum session ace Ralph Salmins’ home studio in Welwyn. Ralph puts us all to shame! Not for Ralph the laptop, headphones and red plastic Tandy microphone by the exercise bike in the spare room, oh goodness me no! Ralph’s home studio is exactly that- a purpose built recording studio in the grounds of his house with a small kitchen and a lav in it. He even had the leather sofa and bowl of fruit. Now that’s attention to detail. We were there under the ever watchful baton of Anne Dudley, who gained fame as the keyboard player in ABC, and then formed half of the Art Of Noise. Anne had been put in charge of co-ordinating the music for a TV show in which there is a tea dance, and we were to be the tea-dance band. Three lovely arrangements of old jazz standards later and we were done. Here’s a picture of the chaps in Ralph’s home studio (Or Studio) L to R- Steve Pearce, Anne, Ralph, Me, Paul Dunne. Because it was a jazz session as such, Steve had elected to wear a jazz hat throughout. Groovy.
I was also experimenting with exciting new ways of playing the clarinet-
And so, smugly, I left Ralph’s that morning, having done two sessions by midday. Watch out for feeling smug! The Gods will un-smug you as soon as they can! I smugly parked the Volvo up to get a can of smug pop on the way home, and when I came smugly out of the shop, some bugger had driven past and smashed my wing mirror off! Wing mirrors, I’m sure you know, are no longer a mirror on a stick, but a theremoformed motorized colour co-ordinated heated clod of advanced technology, conveniently standing in price terms at just below the excess I’d had to have paid to the insurers anyway. Had I not gone out, the mirror would have been intact, and I’d have ended up slightly richer. Mind you, I did get to play some nice music. And eat most of Ralph’s fruit.